Destination Guide – Bogotá For Every Budget

La Casa Botica Bogota

Check out my guest post about traveling in Bogotá, Colombia from budget to splurge on Backpack South America a new travel blog that is:

Dedicated to providing detailed, up-to-date and accurate information about travelling South America on a backpacker’s budget. All advice comes from real travel bloggers who have actually travelled in South America.

Backpack South America was created by travel blogger Emily Luxton and is a great resource for anyone traveling to South America.

 

Bogotá Eats – Ceviche, Chocolate Santafereño, Andrés D.C. & Más

Plaza de Bolivar Bogotá AliciaBogotá knows how to eat. From empanadas, ceviche and chocolate with cheese to every type of world cuisine can be found in this city. Our last day in Bogotá we went on an eating spree. Before touring around the colonial barrio of La Candelaria again we headed to famous La Puerta Falsa, Bogotá’s oldest running restaurant (1816). They never opened so we to La Puerta de la Tradición next door and had one of the most iconic Bogotano snack: chocolate santafereño (or chocolate completo). Piping hot hot chocolate with a chunk of white cheese to drown in the chocolate and served with buttered toast. This is a must try food for Bogotá. May sound weird but the sweet chocolate and mild cheese work well together. Trust me.

Check it out the Tastemade video I made of the yummy chocolate with cheese —> https://www.tastemade.com/v/oz_AxhfVQVOxLmLUNaPHIg

More beautiful sights in La Candelaria:

Bogotá Reflecting PoolsBogotá Candelaria 1

For lunch we went to the Zona Rosa neighborhood in the northern part of Bogotá which is chock full of bars and restaurants (and great shopping). Wanting to take advantage of the weather we looked for a patio and found Restaurante 1492. Feels good to sit outside on Christmas Day. Everything here is fresh, fresh, fresh! Continue reading

Beautiful Chaos in Bogotá Day 2

Red House Candelaria Blur

Bogotá has its own set of rules. Figuring out these rules is part of the adventure when traveling. Bogotá can make you feel like you have to earn your place but there is a sense of mutual respect once you prove you can mange it. It is then you can concentrate on the magic that is discovered on the side streets and in the faces of the Bogotanos.

If you let the chaos get in your way you miss the beauty. Traffic is bad, like takes 2 hours to get across town in rush hour bad. And let’s not talk about the pollution. But Continue reading

My Journey Back to Bogotá

Monserrate

¿De dónde eres?

This has always been an interesting question for me, where am I from? I suppose the answer depends on who is asking the question and where it is being asked.

Located at almost 9,000 feet in the Andes Mountains Bogotá is the beautiful, thriving, immense, pulsating city of my birth. The temperate climate (think San Francisco) keeps everything green for its 8 million people. Bogotá is a city in transition and with that comes the stark contrasts of old and new, money and poverty. The staggering beauty of the Andes surrounds new skyscrapers and the colonial cobblestone streets of Candelaria.

Candelaria Street

Adrenaline pumped through my veins upon seeing Bogotá, although I have been here before. But really this is my first time. I left when I was a month old so I don’t remember the sights, sounds and smells that make Bogotá distinct.

Despite the raised eyebrow when I let them know I do not have a Colombian passport at immigration it was a speedy entry into the sparkling international terminal. Our luggage passed the sniff test of the drug/bomb? dog and we jumped into an old taxi. The slight neck movement and faint eyebrow frown that I have come to expect from people in Latin American countries when they hear my American accented Spanish was made by the driver.  Sorry to catch you off guard but there is a reason I speak like this. I love the first glimpses of the scenery from the airport ride, like the previews to a movie. Only this time I felt myself straining to see something familiar to prove I am from here.

I should take a minute to explain that this isn’t my typical trip or vacation. These four days are a journey. A journey back to my birth country to meet my birth family. I was adopted and came to the US as a baby. I started a search last year for my birth family. I decided to buy a ticket to Bogotá before I had news of my family as I wanted to see the city I was born in and where I am from regardless of if my family was found or if they wanted to see me (of course I wanted to be accepted by them but in these situations you have to be prepared for anything). The day after I bought my ticket I got the call they had been found.

So there I was in my city, ready to meet my flesh and blood. It is impossible to communicate the feeling of how surreal and impossible this moment in time was for me. It was truly awesome in the sense this word is supposed to be used.

This is a still from a video of me moments before meeting my family for the first time. Smile on my face and clenched fists…fear and wonder…

Alicia Walking to Meet Urregos For The First Time

Soy de Bogotá. It feels good to be home.

Colombian Dinner in Germany – Willkommen to Corazón Latino

Last year I posted about zum AckerbürgerL’Osteria and Cavos Taverna during my trip to Germany. My birthday was also during this trip and I wanted to try something a bit different. Enter Corazón Latino, a Colombian restaurant in Stuttgart. Upon entering you feel like you stepped into some kind of vortex and landed in another world/country.

The restaurant itself is more like entering a home. There is a waiting area in the front with a small bar behind it.  The dining room is basically a big living room with communal tables and Botero paintings fighting for wall space with maps and various posters.

Image via Corazon Latino Facebook Page

It is really warm, cozy and bursting with activity and Latin American music playing. Is it kind of loud? Yes, but you are at a party not a restaurant so you expect nothing less. The owner, a Colombian woman by the name of Erika Marina, is larger than life. She seems to be able take food orders, deliver drinks and chat with everyone at the same time. Make no mistake, you will get your drink almost right away but you will have to wait for your food. This doesn’t matter because you might as well be in Colombia where people take their time to eat and are only in a hurry to have a good time.  This is probably part of the appeal to the German clientele where order and softer voices are more the norm in most restaurants.

The mojitos were nice and fresh and they did not skimp on the alcohol. We did have two rounds before the main courses came out but hey; it was my birthday so seemed natural.

The empanadas were light, flaky and full of flavor.

The menu is pretty extensive with dishes from various Latin American countries and even beers from several different countries. Unfortunately since it has been over a year and I have lost my notes I do not have the name and descriptions of the entrees so I am sure I am leaving some things out.  My dish was fried chicken, rice and beans, plantains and a fried egg. The meal was worth the wait and a very generous portion.

The other entrée was BBQ chicken, red beans with pork, rice and black beans. The sauce on the chicken was a bit spicy and very tasty. I also enjoyed the extra flavor the pork added to the red beans.

Full of mojitos and food we didn’t even dare order dessert. Joining in on the party that is Corazon Latino was such a rich experience you don’t even miss dessert. I am sorry to report that since eating there, Corazon Latino has closed. They hope it is only a temporary closing so if you are ever in Stuttgart you should look them up to see if they are back in business! ¡Buena suerte, Corazon Latino!

Image via Corazon Latino Facebook Page

Yellow, Blue & Red – Colombia Comes To Chicago

“Yellow, blue and red are the 3 colors in the flag of the Republic of Colombia. In Spanish: Amarillo, Azul y Rojo [ ah-mah-ree-yoh, ah-zool e roh-ho ]. The colors have been described as representing elemental concepts such as sovereignty and justice (yellow), loyalty and vigilance (blue), and valor and generosity (red); or simply the principles of liberty, equality, and fraternity. The essence that makes Colombia and Colombians what and who they are and the way they live life. YB&R aims to represent that soul and essence in every dish, served by the chef with the same hospitality Colombian homes are known for.”

A Colombian friend of mine told me about Yellow, Blue & Red and I was immediately intrigued. According to their website they are essentially a pop-up restaurant and will be “on tour” around the US.  You must be invited/referred by a previous guest and they only have 1 table for 6 people. The best part, the meal is gratis, no check, nothing.

It sounds like it is pretty exclusive but they also do private dinners. I am hoping I can be apart of a dinner with my Colombian friends soon! I will keep you posted. If anyone knows of a previous guest, please let me know!

In the meantime, fest your eyes on this:

Ajiaco (Soup)
Image via Facebook.com/YellowBlueandRed

Mojicon Cake & Burnt Marshmallow
Image via facebook.com/YellowBlueandRed

La Colombe Torrefaction — New Coffee Cafe on Randolph

 

 

 

Image Via lacolombe.com

 

 

I was reading Time Out and saw an article on this new coffee shop that opened on Randolph. What caught my attention was this description from the article, “The latest is La Colombe’s Pure Black, an endurance-strength bottled iced coffee in which Corsica grounds (a blend of Brazilian, Colombian, Honduran and Mexican beans) steep for 16 hours in stainless-steel wine tanks before being pressed, filtered twice and bottled by hand at the roastery’s headquarters in Philadelphia.”

I’m not an avid coffee drinker and that description made my mouth water. I wonder if all of those steps really make a coffee taste better?

 

La Colombe Torrefaction — Cafes.